Gladiators FC kicked off their Alfreton Sunday League Division Three season with a tough game against Heanor Staff that ended with a dramatic 2-1 win.
The first half was a very even affair, with the Gladiators a post’s width away from taking the lead from a Kev Marchant diving header.
On the 30-minute mark, the Gladiators were unlucky to give away a penalty, which was slotted home. This gave Heanor the edge and Jamie Rhodes made two brilliant saves to ensure the Gladiators went in at the break only 1-0 down.
The Gladiators battled throughout the second half having the better of the play, but both teams couldn’t carve out any really good goalscoring chance.
Roger “Mourinho” Stone then brought off Stu Pearson in a final throw of the dice to push forward and get an equaliser. In the 90th minute, a headed Heanor clearance found Chris Gratton running in and, from around 40 yards out, he volleyed it first time into the top left corner of the net, not only drawing the Gladiators level but most probably wining goal of the season too.
Straight from the restart, Heanor gave away a free kick and a magical chip by Leam Manfield allowed Joe Taylor to force a great save from the Heanor keeper, but Dave “fox in the box” Armshaw got a toe end to the parried ball to slot it home and give the home side all three points.
Seconds after the goal, the referee blew for full time, giving the Gladiators a dream start to the season.